This year’s 9/11 post is going to be somewhat different for me; it’s the first time I write one being a non-resident of the NY/NJ area. As many of you know, I moved to the Midwest earlier this year, but I commute almost weekly to New York for work. As I booked my tickets for my return trip home, initially I was supposed to leave yesterday, the 10th. However, I felt this amazing need to be in NYC today; where all people (and I mean all) share the pain of the day. I extended my trip by a day.
You see, in NYC, you’re hard pressed to find someone who did not know at least one person who was lost that day, or at least, they know someone who does. For me; it is two people. I’ll say my prayers for them and all the people who perished that day in NY, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania privately. This post is about something else; unity.
Everyone remembers where they were on that day. I was in Miami at a sales meeting for the very large tour operator for which I worked at the time. We were, that day, going to present our new international emergency plan and roll-out the “GO TEAM”; ten specially trained individuals who would fly to wherever there was an international emergency to take care of our passengers. Little did we know, our GO TEAM would be needed that day and worse, that we would be needed here at home.
As soon as the catastrophe began, we went into action, taking care of the plans and communication for the over 12,000 travelers grounded at points around the world, unable to come home. It took almost ten days to get everyone home, but we did. I won’t go into all the details about that project, because they are irrelevant. What is important was the feeling of unity that every American felt that day and the year or two that followed. Every single house flew an American flag. Every car had some sort of sticker. We were as united as I remembered in my lifetime. There was nothing we couldn’t do together.
Yet, eight years later, I was having dinner with friends last night and clearly the Republicans weren’t happy with the Democrats at the table. Political talk got extremely heated between the bankers, hedge-fund managers, real estate developers and others. I have not seen such fierce political division in a long time. At one point, someone asked about the date and within a moment, everyone remembered 9/11. Political discussions stopped in an amazing cease-fire. We talked and toasted more important things like family and friendship. I only wish we could make that feeling last. America needs to be united, all the time, every day. I’m afraid however, Monday will come and we’ll again take political sides. The theme will be division and it is a shame.
So, as you go about your day, there’s no question you’ll be thinking about 9/11. Please, PLEASE tell me we all learned something that day and that the date isn’t just a memory. Try though, to keep that feeling of American pride and unity through next week, next month or for as long as you can. Remember, life is fleeting. What we do all day for work is meaningless in the big scheme of things. Finally and most important, go home tonight, kiss your children, your spouses and your loved ones. Tell them how much you care about them. Help them whenever needed with whatever needed. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Do this every day, being sure not to miss a day, not a single day.